Nav: Home

Babies from bilingual homes switch attention faster

February 25, 2020

Babies born into bilingual homes change the focus of their attention more quickly and more frequently than babies in homes where only one language is spoken, according to new research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

The study, led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), used eye-tracking technology to record the gaze of 102 infants carrying out a variety of tasks.

The researchers chose to test babies aged between seven and nine months to rule out any benefits gained from being able to speak a second language, often referred to as the "bilingual advantage". Instead, the study focused on the effects of growing up hearing two or more languages.

When shown two pictures side by side, infants from bilingual homes shifted attention from one picture to another more frequently than infants from monolingual homes, suggesting these babies were exploring more of their environment.

The study also found that when a new picture appeared on the screen, babies from bilingual homes were 33% faster at redirecting their attention towards the new picture.

Lead author Dr Dean D'Souza, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), said: "Bilingual environments may be more variable and unpredictable than monolingual environments -- and therefore more challenging to learn in.

"We know that babies can easily acquire multiple languages, so we wanted to investigate how they manage it. Our research suggests that babies in bilingual homes adapt to their more complex environment by seeking out additional information.

"Scanning their surroundings faster and more frequently might help the infants in a number of ways. For example, redirecting attention from a toy to a speaker's mouth could help infants to match ambiguous speech sounds with mouth movements."

The researchers are currently investigating whether faster and more frequent switching in infancy has cascading effects over developmental time, for example affecting behaviour in older children and adults.
-end-


Anglia Ruskin University

Related Language Articles:

Human language most likely evolved gradually
One of the most controversial hypotheses for the origin of human language faculty is the evolutionary conjecture that language arose instantaneously in humans through a single gene mutation.
'She' goes missing from presidential language
MIT researchers have found that although a significant percentage of the American public believed the winner of the November 2016 presidential election would be a woman, people rarely used the pronoun 'she' when referring to the next president before the election.
How does language emerge?
How did the almost 6000 languages of the world come into being?
New research quantifies how much speakers' first language affects learning a new language
Linguistic research suggests that accents are strongly shaped by the speaker's first language they learned growing up.
Why the language-ready brain is so complex
In a review article published in Science, Peter Hagoort, professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Radboud University and director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, argues for a new model of language, involving the interaction of multiple brain networks.
Do as i say: Translating language into movement
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a computer model that can translate text describing physical movements directly into simple computer-generated animations, a first step toward someday generating movies directly from scripts.
Learning language
When it comes to learning a language, the left side of the brain has traditionally been considered the hub of language processing.
Learning a second alphabet for a first language
A part of the brain that maps letters to sounds can acquire a second, visually distinct alphabet for the same language, according to a study of English speakers published in eNeuro.
Sign language reveals the hidden logical structure, and limitations, of spoken language
Sign languages can help reveal hidden aspects of the logical structure of spoken language, but they also highlight its limitations because speech lacks the rich iconic resources that sign language uses on top of its sophisticated grammar.
Lying in a foreign language is easier
It is not easy to tell when someone is lying.
More Language News and Language Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.